Home Wine News Articles Shop for Wine Accessories About Links Downloads Contact

Good Grape Wine Company

Left side of the header
Right side of the header

Middle-earth Pinot Noir

It’s appropriate that New Zealand was the site for the film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.  Set in an earthly, but fantastical and fictitious place called “Middle-earth,” the movie brought New Zealand to life as a stunning backdrop for Frodo Baggins. And, to my palate, that’s precisely where NZ Pinot Noir fits – another world entirely; a middle ground that exists somewhere between the Old World and New World, reflecting both, both mirroring neither.

While many (most?) pedigreed California Pinot’s mine that fruit-forward, full-bodied territory with omnipresent oak acting as a plush counterpoint to the sometimes thin Burgundian style, New Zealand seems to consistently strike a nice middle ground with a quixotic, well-knit whole – not entirely of the earth, nor too fruit-laden.  Oak and brix level at harvest act as an equilibrating calibrator not a style definition.

Whereas Oregon and Michigan sometimes strive for a Burgundian character that too often and unwittingly pays homage to thin bodied wines with currant fruit notes and an herbaceousness that I don’t particularly care for, New Zealand brings a richer depth of fruit with cherry, berry and plum coupled with a striking “of the earth” quality.

It’s that fresh macerated fruit co-mingling with the “after the rain” dirt and mushroom balanced by a lingering acidity that I find particularly beguiling.  And, to boot, New Zealand Pinot is mostly affordable, as well.

For an interesting exercise, try picking up a Hartley Ostini Hitching Post Pinot from the Central Coast, a Brooks Winery Pinot from Oregon, a Burgundy (whatever you can find—village level or better) and a New Zealand Pinot (from the Marlborough region where “value” is their middle name) to see the stylistic differences.  All of them will be good, but that’s not the point. The New Zealand Pinot will likely stand out like the hot redhead at a cocktail party—different, interesting, confident; the kind of woman that drops science fiction movie bon mots with a disarming laugh that dazzles, but rarely dominates.
The tasting notes below (2006 Brancott Reserve Pinot Noir and the 2007 Stoneleigh Pinot Noir), are two good examples of the “Middle-earth” (and affordable) concept that I’m talking about. 




Posted in, Good Grape Wine Reviews. Permalink | Comments (5) |


On 08/05, Dylan wrote:

Now here’s the important question, was the finish on these wines as long as the third film in the trilogy? Because that practically had 4 endings.

On 08/05, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

I know that the “sun stones” sounds like a marketing ploy (and if fact I doubt that the winemaker/vineyard manager would call them that), but I’ve actually had the good fortune of seeing these vineyards and it isn’t. The stones in this vineyard are fairly remarkable, they do radiate the sun’s heat… and they’re in abundance.

On 08/06, Jeff wrote:

thanks for the comments, guys.

Dylan - Ha.  I saw the third one in the theatre on an IMAX screen, in addition to vertigo, I was wondering when it was mercifully going to end.  Though, you should check out Legends of Fall with brad Pitt from the 90’s—now that’s a movie that goes on and on and on and on.  The Brancott Pinot does finish similarly long, but pleasingly.

Kelkeagy - excellent insight from a source that’s been there.  Thanks for the fuller perspective!

All the best, guys!


On 08/09, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

Something else to look out for is the development in Marlborough Pinot Noir in the next few years as more Pinot Noir vineyards come into production off small, interesting, hill-side sites - especially on clay soils.

On 05/15, TN Pas Cher wrote:

was mercifully going to end.  Though, you should check out Legends of Fall with brad Pitt from the


View More Archives